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Flavours of India: Bangaler Rasogolla and other Geographical Indications

Geographical Indications-Tea bushes in an estate in Darjeeling.
Tea bushes in an estate in Darjeeling. (Source - Wikimedia Commons)

Discovering India

Flavours of India: Bangaler Rasogolla and other Geographical Indications

A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin.

Darjeeling Tea, Basmati Rice and Nagpur Oranges are some well-known Geographical Indications of India (GI tags) for agricultural produce and food stuff identified with a particular region.

The latest to join the list in November 2017, Bangaler Rasogolla, sparked off a war on social media with people from neighbouring Odisha claiming that they too had a justifiable right on the sweet! This tussle can be explained by what a Geographical Indications registration signifies.

Simply put, it identifies the food stuff (Bangaler Rasogolla in this latest case), agricultural produce like rice or tea, handicrafts, textiles and manufactured items with the specific region that it is found in. This means that similar items from another state or a region in the same state cannot be sold or advertised under the same name.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. “Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production,” the organisation says on its website.

We decided to dig deeper to look at some of the fruits, vegetables and varieties of food stuff that have received a GI registration in India.

Some Good Stuff Here

Going by the number of Geographical Indications (GI tags) West Bengal has obtained for “Food Stuff”, this state is surely a foodies’ haven! It has a tag for Banglar Rasogolla, Joynagar Moa, Bardhaman Sitabhog and Bardhaman Mihidana.

This is almost half the total number of GI registrations under this category in India so far. The others include the popular Bikaneri Bhujia from Rajasthan, Dharwad Pedha from Karnataka, Hyderabad Haleem from Telangana and Bandar Laddu Food from Andhra Pradesh.

With West Bengal getting a GI tag for Bangaler Rasogolla, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has promised to initiate steps to get a GI registration for “Odishara Rasogolla” at the earliest.

(Read – India’s Geography: Get To Know The Country’s Distinct Regions)

The Cup That Cheers

When you sip your favourite Darjeeling Tea, wherever in the world this may be, you can do so secure in the knowledge that both the word and the logo have a GI registration for West Bengal (the famous tea estates of Darjeeling are located in this state). Another flavour which is secured under Geographical Indications is the Kangra Tea of Himachal Pradesh.

If you are a coffee lover, it might interest you to know that the Monsooned Malabar Arabica and the Monsooned Malabar Robusta are registered in the name of Karnataka.

Of Mangoes & Other Fruits

For a country as diverse as India, it is not surprising that fruits make up the largest chunk of Geographical Indications registrations under the category “Agricultural”.

You will find three varieties of mangoes from West Bengal –Laxman Bhog, Khirsapati (Himsagar) and the Fazli grown in the district of Malda – in addition to popular ones like Mango Malihabadi Dussehri from Uttar Pradesh and the unique Gir Kesar Mango of Gujarat. Completing the list are Appemidi (Karnataka), Banaganapalle (Andhra Pradesh) and Marathwada Kesar (Maharashtra).

The Nagpur Orange and Jalna Sweet Orange from Maharashtra; Arunachal Orange from Arunachal Pradesh and the Memong Narang of Meghalaya figure in the list of fruits which have received a GI tag over the years.

Varieties of bananas with a GI registration are:

  • Kamalapur Red Banana, Karnataka
  • Nanjanagud Banana, Karnataka
  • Chengalikodan Nendran Banana, Kerala
  • Jalgaon Banana, Maharashtra

Other fruits in the list include blue grapes, pineapple, litchi, pomegranate, custard apple and fig.

Rice

The total number of Geographical Indications for rice is over a dozen at the moment, the most prominent and well-known being that for Basmati. The GI for Basmati extends to the entire states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. It also covers “parts” of western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

Interestingly, the list of states with GIs for most varieties of rice is topped by Kerala which has six: Navara, Palakkadan Matta, Pokkali, Wayanad Jeerakasala, Wayanad Gandhakasala and Kaipad.

The other varieties of rice which have received Geographical Indications registration include Ajara Ghansal (Maharashtra), Kalanamak Rice (Uttar Pradesh), Gobindobhog and Tulapanji (West Bengal), Joha (Assam) and Ambemohar (Maharashtra).

Hot & Spicy

The list of chillies under GI has Byadagi Chilli (Karnataka), Mizo Chilli (Mizoram) and Bhiwapur Chilli (Maharashtra).

Spices with a GI tag include:

  • Malabar Pepper, Kerala
  • Alleppey Green Cardamom, Kerala
  • Coorg Green Cardamom, Karnataka
  • Sikkim Large Cardamom, Sikkim
  • Waigaon Turmeric, Maharashtra
  • Uttarakhand Tejpat, Uttarakhand

Also On The List

When it comes to flowers, Karnataka heads this list with three registered entries, Mysore Jasmine, Udupi Jasmine and Hadagali Jasmine. The state is followed by Odisha which has the GI registration for Ganjam Kewda Flower and Ganjam Kewda Rooh. Tamil Nadu’s Madurai Malli completes the list when it comes to flowers.

The rest of the list includes vegetables like:

  • Kachai Lemon, Manipur
  • Lasalgaon Onion, Maharashtra
  • Bangalore Rose Onion, Karnataka
  • Naga Tree Tomato, Nagaland
  • Assam Karbi Anglong Ginger, Assam
  • Jalgaon Brinjal, Maharashtra

Varieties of wheat, jaggery, coconut, betel leaf and kokum also find mention in this GI list.

From Foreign Shores

Italy is the only foreign country to have obtained GI tags for food stuffs. These are Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano and Asiago.

All other GI tags given to foreign countries for edible items are under the “Manufactured” category, essentially for varieties of alcohol, wine and spirits. These are Scotch Whisky (United Kingdom), Champagne and Cognac (France), Tequila (Mexico), Napa Valley Wine (USA), Peruvian Pisco (Peru) and Porto and Douro (Portugal).

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